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Discussion Starter #1
I am new to hand guns (Sig SP2022) and my wife wants to get a pistol also. Problem is, she does not seem to like the recoil and noise of my 9mm. We both agree that she will pick out the pistol for her, but I am trying to do research for both of us. She has fired a rented Walther P22 and seems to like the size of the gun, the little recoil, etc. Would this be a proper pistol for her to start with, and eventually carry in her purse? I know it is not as good for sd as a 9mm or larger, but, something small is better than nothing at all, isn't it?

Due to heredity, she has some difficultly racking my 9mm and holding the large gun steady on a target.

Opinions and advice appreciated. Thanks.
 

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Handle as many as possible and try and shot the ones that feel good in her hands.

Plus you can buy some recoil reduced ammo too.
 

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You might try some of the .38 caliber snubbies made for the "weaker sex". The Charter Arms "Pink Lady" comes to mind. The .38 can be bought in some pretty light loads. Get her started on a light load with something she can handle and you might be able to up the load a little at a time. For a beginner any handgun they can handle is better than a handgun they can't. The 9MM/38 Special/380 are all the same basic diameter.
 

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Well, there are a lot of things to really be considered.

Many factors such as age, body size or type, go into whether or not someone is incapable of operating the slide or just hasn't become physically fit or strong enough to operate the slide. A lot of the slide manipulation can be just as much technique as it is physical strength.

Stepping down in caliber from 9mm does not necessarily mean recoil will be easier for her to manage. Smaller calibers such as .380 or .32 tend to come in smaller packages which has a direct correlation as to felt recoil. For example, most full size 9mm pistols are often easier to handle than say a .380 Ruger LCP.

A revolver in 9mm, .32 H&R, or .38 Spl may be an option as opposed to a semi-automatic pistol as well.

A .22 cal rim-fire while can be very lethal, is considered woefully inept as a fight stopper and usually very ineffective as a true defensive caliber. Unless your wife is so infirmmed or physically disabled as to only handle a .22 then I would work towards one of the larger more acceptable calibers. It is fairly rare that a person can only handle a .22 cal pistol. It may be that they do not want to put in the time and effort to properly learn how to shoot anything else, but that is a poor excuse as far as I'm concerned. Still if that is all she can shoot, it is somewhat better than a sharp stick.

The best bet, in order to have the best and most positive results is to have her enrolled in a decent beginners shooting class. One that teaches the basics, yet is geared toward defensive shooting down the road. They will work with her to at least find out which calibers she can handle and she will get an idea from there.

After that would be to go shopping and let her try out as many different types and calibers as she can.

If you want to do things correctly, you have to understand that it is a process and takes some time. It is very easy to get a person to have a bad experience with firearms and turn them off to the whole concept of guns in general. And then where are you? Not in a very good place. After all, the goal here is to attempt to have your wife help defend herself and be able to shoot and handle a defensive weapon.

Good luck and keep asking questions. You'll get a lot of good advice here.

Btw... my post is merely my opinion. It's based on what has worked in the past with introducing some new people to shooting. Your circumstances may certainly be different.
 

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What Bark'n said.

My wife can handle the recoil of a .38, but not the grip size of a K-frame revolver. She can shoot autos, but not rack the slide well. She shoots quite well in rapid fire from a revolver, but doesn't want to spend the time to learn the various controls of an automatic. Our solution: small-frame .38 revolver with standard-pressure loads.

I have a .327 and would not even ask her to shoot it, except with .32 H&R Magnum or .32 S&W Long ammo. The hot .327 fodder is more akin to a .357 than to a .32 Long, and someone who doesn't like 9mm is HIGHLY unlikely to appreciate the report, torque and recoil of a .327.

Happy shooting.
 

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All steel snub nose 38 special from Smith and Wesson or Ruger. Stay away from an ultralite. The lack of weight in an ultralite results in too much recoil.
 

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If it's an auto she's wanting, might want to look into the little Beretta Tomcat .32. You can load and unload it without having to rack the slide. It has a tilt-up barrel.
 

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If racking the slide is a problem then she should definitely go with a snubby .
I would recommend a S&W 640. It's a hammerless .357 magnum which of course will also fire .38 spls.
The concealed hammer makes it slightly more concealable and purse friendly. Best of all she has the option of shooting magnums if she should ever desire.
Installing some cushioned rubber grips would also help.
 

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Steel short barrel .38 revolver?

If your wife doesn't like the recoil of a 9mm and can't rack the slide, I'd say that caliber is eliminated, as well as any semiautos in larger caliber. The .22 is fun to practice with, but I think it is too small for a dedicated self defense gun.

That leaves revolvers, which would solve the slide racking problem. And if you get an all steel .38 revolver, the recoil problem is minimized. My own wife seems to prefer a Colt Detective Special, a 6 shot all steel .38 which weighs about 21 ounces and doesn't have a bad recoil. Other all steel candidates might include the Ruger SP101 and the S&W model 10, in short barrel lengths.

 

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Another option may be something along the lines of a Bersa .380. Lighter recoil than a 9mm, or .38 snubbie. A little on the light side caliber wise, but if she can shoot with it and will carry it, it's better than something she'll leave at home.
 

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My suggestion: Ruger SP101 shooting 38 SP. non+p. It has the heft to help with recoil, and yet weighs a very manageable 25 oz for carry. If she gets good at it, she can always carry it with +p 38s or full load 357s.
 

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I have 3 stainless steel Ruger Revolvers. They are built like tanks and readily absorb much of the recoil with rubber grips.

My wife carries a DAO (double action only) SP-101 in .38 spl. (top left)
I also have a DAO SP-101 in .357 Magnum (middle right)
And finally a DA/SA Speed Six with 3 inch barrel in .357 Magnum (bottom).

All would be an excellent choice and I carry them frequently.

These Rugers in .38 spl can readily fire standard loads as well as +P and +P+ without damage to the gun.
The .357 magnum can of course shoot any of those as well as the magnum loads without damage.

The Speed Six is no longer made and was replaced by the venerable GP-100, another excellent revolver for defensive use.
Ruger Revolvers
 

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Official rules of DC: If someone asks "Gun for the wife?," the appropriate response is "yes, I'll take that trade."

ps. Here's another vote for a Ruger SP101.
 

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I believe the slide racking problems some women have, are caused more by poor technique than lack of strength.

A revolver is not always the answer for women with slide racking problems. Because if their entire hand and fingers are so weak they can't rack a slide, I don't believe they'll fare well at all trying to pull the heavy 13-14 lb. triggers on a revolver with a single finger. Especially women with arthritic fingers.

I've observed a substantial number of women at my range shooting revolvers, and have noticed that a significant number of their shots were straying in a manner that would indicate they were having trouble pulling the triggers.

Not to mention that buying a revolver will not help a woman who is recoil sensitive, since a revolver will have more recoil than a semi-auto of the same or similar caliber.

Snubbie revolvers aren't the answer either, since their recoil will be even worse than medium to large framed revolvers, using an identical or similar caliber.

I've shot my fair share of snubbies over the last 30+ years. Even with standard .38 Special defensive loads, IMHO recoil sensitive shooters would not be happy campers having to fire one.
 

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If she wants to get something like a Walther P22
just to practice with I think that would be great
but not if it is going to be the gun she depends on for
self defense. It is true that any gun is better than no gun
but most .22 pistols are not reliable enough to bet your life
on. I have a Walther 22 for fun but it malfunctions too much
for a carry gun. Walther does make a .380 now thats about
the same size as their .22 maybe look into that for her.
 

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Another option may be something along the lines of a Bersa .380. Lighter recoil than a 9mm, or .38 snubbie. A little on the light side caliber wise, but if she can shoot with it and will carry it, it's better than something she'll leave at home.
Huh?!

Because they're blowback operated, a lot of .380's like the Bersa will often have worse recoil than many 9mm's.

Also, .380 ammunition is getting increasingly hard to find and is almost twice as expensive as 9mm ammo.

Not to mention that the 9mm is the proven superior self-defense cartridge.

With "micro 9's" like the Kahr PM9 available, the .380 mouse gun also doesn't have the concealability advantage it once did.

So in the 21st century, there's simply no good reason to buy a .380 instead of a 9mm, if armed self-defense is your primary goal.
 

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...So in the 21st century, there's simply no good reason to buy a .380 instead of a 9mm, if armed self-defense is your primary goal.
I respectfully disagree. Defensive Arms is right, of course, about the benefit of 9mm over .380, but I would submit that how the weapon fits her hand may indeed be the "good reason" to go with .380 if necessary. My daughter, for instance, found everything but the Bersa 380CC to be cumbersome. So, to answer the "what fits?" question, I would encourage you to take her to a gun show: they have acres of handguns available for her to handle.

+1 on the SP101 if she has the finger strength for the trigger: it's a great gun.

+1 on the Tomcat if she has serious strength problems: sure, it's too small if one has the choice... but if that's the ONLY choice you have, it's exactly what you wanted!

And +1000 on not handing her a Dirty Harry hand cannon like I did for my wife (she almost dropped it). At least I didn't let her shoot with it! Start small, let her experience success, and build as you can.

The two of you might want to visit Cornered Cat and Limatunes' blogs. Might be very interesting for her.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thanks for all the great responses and some very good advice. However, she is adamant that she wants nothing more than a 22. And, I do not want to turn her off about shooting a gun by insisting that she get something more powerful. My hopes is that in time, as she becomes more familiar and comfortable with a small caliber pistol, she will want to move up.

With that in mind, late this afternoon we ordered her a Tarus PT-22. She likes the way it feels in her hand. It is not so powerful that it will intimidate her. It has the pop-up barrel, so she does not have to rack the slide to arm it.

All in all, I am very pleased with her decision. I will keep you posted on her progress. Thanks, again for the help.
 
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